The EURAXESS conference on ‘Stakeholder dialogue – Brain circulation in Europe’ took place in Brussels on 22 October 2019. The EURAXESS network is a pan-European initiative delivering information and support services to professional researchers interested in conducting research abroad.
One of the conclusions of the event was that academic research and research careers today are increasingly international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary. Therefore, the EU-level work on abolishing obstacles to researcher mobility will have to continue in the coming years. This is possible only, if there is an open and continuous stakeholder dialogue and all key players together get engaged in improving the conditions for research, development and innovation in Europe.
EU Presidency of Croatia in 2020 – Focus on brain circulation
Brain circulation in Europe will be one of the key themes during the upcoming EU presidency of Croatia in 2020. At the seminar Mrs Ivana Pavlaković from the Ministry of Science and Education said that Croatia will address the development of research ecosystems, and in particular inflexible labour laws and insufficient funding schemes that hamper free movement of researchers across Europe.
Mr Kurt Vandenberghe from the European Commission (DG RTD) emphasised that researchers are at the core of a knowledge-based economy. They can push outward the science frontier and contribute to the use of knowledge for economic and societal aims. Europe needs researchers for finding smart and sustainable solutions to
- economic development (i.e. better synergies across countries, sectors and industries),
- environmental problems (i.e. planetary boundaries to be respected),
- social issues, (i.e. fruits of economic growth more equally shared among citizens), and
- political limits (i.e. more transparency of the political system needed).
- In Vandenberghe’s view, a higher level of cross-country researcher mobility fosters co-creation, exchange and transfer of knowledge and innovation.
Career development of researchers
Research careers are highly diverse, field- and context specific, and based on an individual researcher’s personal interests, values and aspirations. Thus, there cannot be one single standard solution to how researchers are supported by means of guidance and training along their careers. All researchers are different and they need specific, and often tailored measures for their professional development and personal growth.
The EURAXESS seminar debated career development of researchers and shared related guidance, mentoring and training practices from participating countries. As part of the discussion on recruitment, working conditions, and staff training policies, the new Europass online platform on learning and careers as a service that researchers can use for describing, presenting, planning and developing their skills and competences was presented by Mr William O’Keeffe from the European Commission (DG EMPL).
The speakers at the event were suggesting that a research career does not start until you launch your PhD studies at the university. Personally I do not fully share this view. From the career guidance perspective, many things need to come together and be in place, before you can even consider starting doctoral studies. This means that everything you have done in your life prior to entering a doctoral programme has somehow prepared you for taking that step. As we well know, doctoral studies and any other research work call for maturity (e.g. human agency, self-efficacy, resilience), strong and broad skills set (e.g. analytical, critical and holistic thinking, drafting skills, …) and a huge amount of self-discipline, motivation and persistence. If you have not developed such skills and capabilities earlier on in life, entering a research career may not be such a good option for you.
Finally, if a young child shows a great deal of curiosity for various topics or a young person a strong interest in exploring different phenomena in their daily environment may indicate that they are inclined for research at a later stage in their learning and career path. This natural interest and underlying potential should be untapped and nurtured by parents, teachers and guidance practitioners in all possible ways. This includes encouraging children and youngsters to learn foreign languages, explore other cultures and get to know people from different countries.